It's a great day to be an American no matter what time of year it is, but the Fourth of July is extra cause for celebrating your pride in the U.S. How do you plan to kick off this red, white and blue holiday with your family? Homeowners can set up a traditional barbecue in their backyards, complete with burgers, brats and maybe even a dessert bar! However, it just wouldn't be Independence Day without fireworks.
That said, blasting colorful explosions into the sky can be dangerous, especially with children around. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency rooms see a daily average of 230 people with fireworks-related injuries in the month leading up to the Fourth of July. That doesn't mean you have to forgo all fun on this special holiday. Watch the fireworks show from afar and try out these kid-friendly, safe alternatives at home:
1. Fireworks in a jar
How would your little ones like to hold fireworks in their hands? Now you have a safe way for them to capture the colors of these explosions with the fireworks in a jar project, an idea featured on I Can Teach My Child. To complete this craft, you'll need a jar, a bowl, warm water, food coloring and vegetable oil.
Mix food coloring (several drops of each color) into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of oil. Then, pour that concoction into a jar filled three-fourths of the way with warm water. Because of the varying densities of the liquids, the food coloring will drop slowly down into the water, appearing like fireworks sparks as they fall to the ground. Not only is this easy and fun, but you probably already have the supplies on-hand in your kitchen, making it convenient to? boot.
2. Confetti eggs
If you're looking to stay safe with the kids this Fourth of July, check out this egg-cellent craft idea from Martha Stewart. First, use scissors to poke a hole in the large end of an egg and let the contents drain out. Rinse and let the egg dry. Next, color the shell using food dye. While she suggested this project for Easter, you can make it appropriate for Independence Day by coloring the eggs red and blue and leaving some white. Cut up some tissue paper to create home-made confetti, and stuff it inside the egg. Next, use a square of tissue paper and a glue stick to cover the opening on the egg.
Once all your confetti eggs are ready, set off an explosion of fun in the backyard by letting little ones throw, toss, smash and smush their projects. The tiny pieces of paper will burst from the shells like your very own fireworks show.
This one comes with a caveat. Sparklers aren't totally safe. They reach high temperatures and can potentially cause burns. However, with parental guidance, kids can use these exciting pseudo fireworks with minimal risk. And if you have artificial grass, you're even more protected, as System Pavers turf is flame-retardant.
4. Balloons filled with confetti
Much like the confetti eggs, you can use balloons to make your own explosions in the backyard. Simply fill red, white and blue balloons with cut-up pieces of tissue paper or glitter before you blow them up. When popped, they will be loud and colorful, just like a real firework.
Don't just prick the balloon with a pin - make popping it more fun by turning this craft into a game. For example, pin the balloons to a cork board and let little ones take turns throwing darts at them. Whoever hits the target gets a prize!
To really get your kids to burn off energy (which might be helpful if they've eaten a lot of Independence Day treats), set up a balloon popping race. Have the kids start at one end of the yard and race to chairs placed on the other side. They have to run to the seat, use only their bottoms to pop the balloon and run back to the start line to win!
5. Silly string
This is a definite outside activity: Equip party-goers with cans of silly string and have them go at it. Kids can run around the yard spraying each other, or you can have designated "silly string spaces" to contain the mess. Opt for patriotic colors of course!
"Leave the fireworks to the professionals."
6. Marshmallow shooters
Those aiming to launch objects into the sky without the scary explosion can make these marshmallow shooters from Come Together Kids. To do this, cut the base off of a plastic cup. Tie a deflated balloon and cut off the top. Next, cover the lip of the cup with the balloon - the tied part should be facing up. This creates a flat, trampoline-like bottom.
Once this construction is complete, place a marshmallow or craft pompom - whatever you have in your cabinet at home already - inside the cup. Holding the edges of the balloon in place on the cup, your kids can pull back the knot and let go to aim, launch and shoot.
7. Do-it-yourself firecrackers
Why buy poppers when you can make them at home? For this project from Let's Mingle, cut a toilet paper tube almost all the way around in the middle. Slide a cracker snap through the tube, and wrap tissue paper around the roll. Cinch the tissue closed at one end with ribbon. The cracker snap should be slightly sticking out on either end. Then, fill the roll with confetti, and secure the other end shut with ribbon. The end product should look like a wrapped-up Tootsie Roll.
When you're ready to have some fun, have the kids break open the firecracker. You'll hear the snap and see the pop!
There are plenty of ways to stay safe while having fun this Fourth of July. Leave the fireworks to the professionals and get crafty for your backyard celebration.